Global 05/02/14 cdc.org: Media Release – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was confirmed today in a traveler to the United States. This virus is relatively new to humans and was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. “We’ve anticipated MERS reaching the US, and we’ve prepared for and are taking swift action,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We’re doing everything possible with hospital, local, and state health officials to find people who may have had contact with this person so they can be evaluated as appropriate. This case reminds us that we are all connected by the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. We can break the chain of transmission in this case through focused efforts here and abroad.”
On April 24, the patient traveled by plane from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to London, England then from London to Chicago, Illinois. The patient then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana. On the 27th, the patient began to experience respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath, coughing, and fever. The patient went to an emergency department in an Indiana hospital on April 28th and was admitted on that same day. The patient is being well cared for and is isolated; the patient is currently in stable condition. Because of the patient’s symptoms and travel history, Indiana public health officials tested for MERS-CoV. The Indiana state public health laboratory and CDC confirmed MERS-CoV infection in the patient this afternoon. “It is understandable that some may be concerned about this situation, but this first U.S. case of MERS-CoV infection represents a very low risk to the general public,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases. In some countries, the virus has spread from person to person through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. However, there is currently no evidence of sustained spread of MERS-CoV in community settings.
CDC and Indiana health officials are not yet sure how the patient became infected with the virus. Exposure may have occurred in Saudi Arabia, where outbreaks of MERS-CoV infection are occurring. Officials also do not know exactly how many people have had close contact with the patient. So far, including this U.S. importation, there have been 401 confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection in 12 countries. To date, all reported cases have originated in six countries in the Arabian Peninsula. Most of these people developed severe acute respiratory illness, with fever, cough, and shortness of breath; 93 people died. Officials do not know where the virus came from or exactly how it spreads. There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus. “In this interconnected world we live in, we expected MERS-CoV to make its way to the United States,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We have been preparing since 2012 for this possibility.” Federal, state, and local health officials are taking action to minimize the risk of spread of the virus. The Indiana hospital is using full precautions to avoid exposure within the hospital and among healthcare professionals and other people interacting with the patient, as recommended by CDC. – For complete release and links to more information see http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0502-US-MERS.html
Author’s Note: Researchers have isolated live MERS virus from single-humped camels also known as dromedaries, and almost 75% of the camels in Saudi Arabia have tested positive for prior exposure to the MERS virus. However, even though camels are suspected to be the primary source of infection for humans, the exact routes of direct or indirect exposure remain unknown.
Western Hemisphere 05/01/14 Caribbean Basin: The head of the Caribbean Public Health Authority (CARPHA), Dr James Hospedales, has declared the Chikungunya virus has reached epidemic proportions in the Caribbean. “By definition this is an epidemic since it represents an unusual number of cases of this problem where we would never have it before,” Dr Hospedales told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC). The mosquito-borne illness was first detected in the Caribbean in December 2013, in St Martin, and last week Antigua and St Vincent and the Grenadines became the latest countries to declare an outbreak. According to Dr Hospedales, as of April 28, there were 4,108 probable cases in 14 countries across the region. . . . . To date the Chikungunya virus has been confirmed in Anguilla, Aruba, Virgin Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Barthelemy, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Maarten (Dutch) and St Martin (French). – For complete article see http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Chikungunya-now-an-epidemic-in-the-Caribbean
Ontario 05/01/14 Bruce County: Yet another dog biting incident is reported in the area. The Grey Bruce Health Unit is asking for your help in tracking down the owner of a dog involved in a biting incident in Chesley. It happened Wednesday at about 9 PM. A man was attacked by a dog while walking on the Chesley Rail Trail near the cemetery. The dog was loose and was not being watched by anyone. The Health unit says the dog is described as large and dark-coloured. Staff of the Grey Bruce Health Unit need to confirm that the dog is not infectious with rabies. By verifying the health of the dog, the victim can avoid receiving the post-exposure rabies treatment. If you have any information related to this incident, please contact the Grey Bruce Health Unit at 519-376-9420. – See http://www.bayshorebroadcasting.ca/news_item.php?NewsID=65812